A dozen businesses in Jackson County will recycle electronic gear such as old televisions or computers free of charge, according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
The "E-Cycle" program, approved by the Legislature in 2007, led to the establishment of collection sites throughout the state where consumers can bring old electronic equipment that may contain mercury, lead or other toxic substances for safe recycling. The machines also contain valuable metals such as gold, copper and aluminum.
Personal Computer Technologies, 1908 Ashland St., Ashland
What can be recycled for free under the new law that takes effect Jan. 1:
Before the new law took effect Jan. 1, Rogue Disposal and Recycling Inc., Southern Oregon Sanitation Inc. and Ashland Sanitary and Recycling Service already started collecting these items for free and sent them off to ECS Regenesys in Santa Clara, Calif., for processing.
Now, nine other companies located throughout Jackson County will accept up to seven electronic items a day.
Goodwill has the most locations in the valley and has received a cargo container from Dell computers to store the electronic items at the Ashland store. The container is being painted and tarps have been erected to temporarily protect the electronic waste.
Suzy Lewis, vice president of retail and operations at Goodwill, said her organization will collect the items, but not resell any of them because of the regulations regarding recycling of electronic waste.
"We're just a pass-through location," she said. For conducting the service, Goodwill will be getting 6 cents a pound, she said.
Like other drop-off centers in the valley, Goodwill will collect the items but ECS Regenesys will process them at its plant.
Lewis said customers don't have to fill out any paperwork when they bring in the items. However, Goodwill also takes other items that are resold and they will continue to provide a donation receipt, she said.
Goodwill has already been receiving electronic items, including older-style, large-screen TVs.
The recycling law doesn't cover cell phones, printers and other computer peripherals, though some recycling centers will accept them, as well.
Electronic waste is already one of the fastest growing categories of trash in the U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that electronic waste accounts for about four percent of the total waste stream, but it is growing two to three times faster than any other single trash source. Holiday sales and the switch from analog to digital television in February 2009 could increase the volume of "e-waste."
Any company that makes computers and TVs sold in Oregon must register with the state and pay a fee, generating an anticipated $350,000 to $400,000 in revenue to administer the program. Companies also pay the cost to recycle the electronics.
According to the DEQ, Oregonians discard millions of pounds of computers, monitors and TVs annually, but only a small percentage is recycled. Millions of pounds of electronic gear also are being stored in homes and garages because people don't know what to do with them.
The Department of Environmental Quality, which oversees the program, hasn't listed all the official collection sites throughout the state yet on its Web site, www.oregonecycles.org. Smith said Rogue Disposal will be one of the sites on the list, which will be released after the program begins.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476 or email@example.com.